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20130201
20130209
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technology. however, as cutting edge as the subject may be, its basic concerns go back to puzzles and problems from the earliest recorded evidence of mathematical thought. now, this is a facsimile of the rhind papyrus, copied around 1850 b.c. by the scribe ahmes from the now-lost text of an earlier dynasty. it was named after a scottish antiquarian, alexander henry rhind, who bought it in 1858 in luxor, egypt. in it, he found what amounts to a math textbook full of problems and solutions that addressed everyday issues, things like how to divide ten loaves of ea equally among seven men and much of the algebra needed to build the pyramids. it also contains possibly the earliest written combinatorics problem, and it goes like this: seven houses contain seven cats. each cat kills seven mice. each mouse had eaten seven ears of grain. each ear of grain would have produced seven hekats of wheat. what is the total of all these? a fairly simple math problem... and a very pragmatic combinatorial argument for getting more cats. in fact, it's not that far removed from the st. ives riddle our
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